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Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Granbury, Texas.
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
Latest from Mark Finkelstein
They really are coming for your guns . . . After the Charleston church shootings, President Obama praised Australia's draconian gun laws, which included a mandatory buy-back program, AKA confiscation.
On today's Morning Joe, Mika wondered "why" we couldn't institute a similar gun ban in the United States, throwing in support for a database of all gun ownership for good measure. Joe Scarborough was actually obliged to explain to Mika that her gun ban was never going to happen because we have the Second Amendment here. That left Mika grimacing in regret [see the screengrab].
There was Hillary Clinton, telling Al Sharpton of all people that she found Kevin McCarthy's comments about the Benghazi hearings "deeply distressing."
That was too much for the Morning Joe panel, which just had to laugh. As John Heilemann put it, far from being distressed, Hillary surely sees McCarthy's comments—implying a political motive behind the hearings—as a Christmas and birthday gift wrapped into one that sent her "skipping through the park."
How damaging to Republicans are Speaker-presumptive Kevin McCarthy's comments in which he tied the drop in Hillary's poll numbers to the Benghazi hearings? Very damaging, according to the With All Due Respect duo on today's show. John Heilemann called them a "disaster" for congressional Republicans and GOP presidential candidates alike. Mark Halperin called them a "huge, huge problem" for the GOP.
Interestingly, Halperin praised committee chairman Trey Gowdy, saying that he had been "carefully preparing the hearings, trying to do what no Republican has done in a long time, run a politically effective, substantive hearing." But, said Halperin, there's "almost nothing he can do now."
Did the tragic irony of his statement not strike Jonathan Capehart? On today's Morning Joe, after disclosing that he could not bear to watch the Planned Parenthood videos, Washington Post editor Capehart expressed opposition to cutting off all funding for it. Arguing that "they do so many other things providing health care to women," Capehart continued "on my Twitter feed yesterday there was a woman who tweeted at me and said thanks to Planned Parenthood I'm still alive."
Jonathan, have you given any thought to the six million people who will never be able to tweet you because their lives were ended by Planned Parenthood abortions?
You know the saying: once is a fluke, twice is a trend. Yesterday, Stephen Colbert and First Lady Michelle Obama shared a laugh over Bill Clinton's "passion." On today's With All Due Respect, responding to Mark Halperin's report that Bill Clinton "keeps saying he doesn't know what Snapchat is," John Heilemann quipped "let's hope not, for his sake."
For those who might not be familiar, Snapchat is an app that lets users send photos or videos that self-destruct within seconds—ideal for "sexting." All snickering aside, will Bill's wandering ways become an issue for Hillary?
Our NewsBusters readers are a prescient bunch. On an item posted earlier this morning about Nicolle Wallace calling Hillary a "terrible" candidate, one reader commented "Nicolle is pretending to be conservative again. Not to worry, she'll be back to her normal liberal self soon."
And sure enough, just seven minutes later, Wallace was letting her bleeding-heart side show. Discussing the news that Joyce Mitchell—the accomplice who helped two convicted murderers escape—had been sentenced to prison, Wallace said "I feel bad for her. Can't she just wear an ankle bracelet?" Nicolle even threw in an empathetic "awww" for the plight of "romancer" Mitchell.
Vladimir Putin probably had to wait 20 minutes for an elevator. Yeah, that's the ticket . . .
Josh Earnest, Barack Obama's spokesman, has excused Vladimir Putin's snub of the President of the United States, in which the Russian strongman turned up 20 minutes late for their lunch at the UN yesterday. On today's Morning Joe, Earnest lamely defended Vlad's tardiness: "anybody that's been around the UN during the General Assembly knows it's total chaos inside that building, so people ae running late quite frequently. " Right. And if you believe that, we've got an oceanfront condo in Moscow to sell you.
Good ol' Mike Barnicle dutifully carried Dem water this morning, maintaining a straight face while calling Hillary Clinton a "strong" candidate. But also on the Morning Joe set was Nicolle Wallace, who reported that "Democrats think she's terrible. I hope [Biden] doesn't run, because he's better than her."
For good measure, Mark Halperin opined that Biden might want to wait until February, on the theory that if Bernie Sanders beats Hillary in Iowa or New Hampshire, "there'll be panic," or as Wallace put it, "pandemonium."
Wait a second: wasn't it just this month that Hillary's handlers announced they were going to have her show a warm 'n fuzzy side, with more "heart?" So who was the genius who coached Clinton to announce that as president she would "impose much harsher restrictions" on financial institutions under Dodd-Frank?
She'll "impose much harsher restrictions?" Brr! Isn't that the Stone Cold Hillary Clinton whose image was being re-engineered? Clinton made her "much harsher" comment in remarks aired on today's debut episode of MTP Daily in response to Chuck Todd's question as to where she differs from President Obama.
Don't put that popcorn-popper away just yet . . . On today's Morning Joe, Chuck Todd said he felt that in his Meet the Press interview of Hillary Clinton yesterday, she was signalling to her Dem supporters that there could be more damaging revelations to come on the email scandal.
Todd was alluding to the moment in the interview in which Hillary agreed with his characterization of a "drip, drip, drip" aspect to the scandal. When Todd asked whether she could "reassure Democrats that there's nothing else here," Hillary's answer was a very un-reassuring "there's only so much I can control."
Hillary Clinton: bravest person in America? You betcha! But don't take my word for it. Here's John Podesta, Chair of Hillary for America, in an email sent out this morning: "If anyone else faced the constant barrage of insults and attacks that Hillary endures everyday, they would quickly and happily squirrel away in a cabin hidden somewhere in the Rockies. Not Hillary. Her default setting is resilience."
Huh: that's funny. I can think of millions of Americans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan and other insalubrious locales who didn't run and hide despite facing "barrages of attacks" that some might say were even worse than the slings and arrows poor Hillary has suffered.
To quote the Church Lady: isn't that conv-e-e-e-e-nient?
On Chris Hayes' MSNBC show tonight, Dem congressman Luis Gutierrez claimed that while he was "challenged" by the Catholic church's teachings on abortion and gay rights and found them "difficult" [but not difficult enough to change his standard liberal positions], no one can really argue the Pope's positions on illegal immigration and income inequality.
Hillary's standard shtick when asked about her private email server is to claim that it was "authorized" or "allowed" by the State Department. But Joe Scarborough has now contradicted her in stunning fashion.
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough criticized John Dickerson for not challenging Hillary on the matter when interviewing her yesterday on Face the Nation. Said Scarborough: "CBS News knows if they have any sources at the State Department, CBS News knows that nobody at the State Department based on all of our sources at the State Department, nobody authorized it. She did it on her own."
Bloomberg's John Heilemann was a rather reluctant witness. But when called on to testify, so to speak, he confirmed a stunning fact: that during the 2008 presidential race, it was Hillary Clinton who started the rumor that Barack Obama might not be a Christian. The matter arose Monday's Morning Joe. Scarborough ripped Hillary's hypocrisy for criticizing Republicans who question Obama's religion, "when it all started with her and her campaign passing things around in the  Democratic primary." Asked to confirm, Heilemann tersely said "it was the case."
Maybe next week, Chris Hayes will share his views on Area 51, whether fire can melt steel, and if the moon landing happened in a Hollywood studio . . .
On his MSNBC show this evening, Hayes floated the notion that the guy at a New Hampshire town hall who told Donald Trump that President Obama is a Muslim might have been a plant. According to Chris, although the moment seemed to have happened "organically" [yes, but was it free range?], "who knows?" Proclaimed Chris: "until they find the guy I'm going to reserve judgment on the origins of the question."
This NewsBuster is a paid subscriber and regular listener to Hugh Hewitt's podcasts, and believes that Hugh is the ablest conservative interviewer on radio. So it was surprising to see him serve as such a loyal CNN soldier on today's Morning Joe.
Hewitt, a member of the CNN panel at Wednesday's GOP debate, refused to complain about the paltry opportunities he was given to question the candidates. And defending the fact that Donald Trump had been given twice Scott Walker and Mike Huckabee's airtime, Hewitt said that while "unfortunate," Jake Tapper had done a "marvelous" job of allocating time. That was too much for Mika Brzezinski, who bluntly told Hewitt: "I guess you're probably uncomfortable being honest about this." Mika's skepticism is on vivid display in the screengrab.
It's one thing for conservatives to concur that Carly Fiorina was outstanding at last night's debate. But to hear a string of superlatives about Fiorina coming from committed liberal Mika Brzezinski was breathtaking.
Over the course of today's Morning Joe, a stream of praise for Fiorina flowed from Mika, capped by this: "my God, I have never seen anyone like her. Ever."
We've got more than a year to go before the election. Even so, Steve Rattner has made a strong bid for most unusual metaphor of the political season.
On today's Morning Joe, Rattner said that when it comes to the email matter, Hillary needs to "open the kimono." Rattner, a Hillary supporter, went on to suggest that she turn over the server and take questions at length from reporters, as Chris Christie did regarding Bridgegate
Like someone looking for the first robin of Spring, this NewsBuster has been on the prowl for the first media person to suggest that Hillary Clinton is going to have to quit the race.
Joe Scarborough didn't go quite that far, but let's just say his shirtfront was taking on a distinctly robin-red hue on today's Morning Joe. After lambasting her "dismal" performance on the stump, Scarborough--quoting an unidentified panel member--said that Hillary is "getting into Rick Perry 2012 territory right now."
Mika Brzezinski: fired up and ready to go . . . for Donald Trump? Not exactly. It isn't that Mika's jumping on the Make America Great Again express. It's just that she wants "intellectual honesty" from her peers when it comes to admitting that Trump has gone from amusing sideshow who's sure to eventually crash to true frontrunner who is now likely to be the Republican nominiee.
You might not think of Brzezinski as being particularly data-driven, but on today's Morning Joe she repeatedly argued that there is no data supporting a Trump meltdown scenario. Going around the table with the question of whether it was "likely" or not that Trump would be the Republican nominee, she, Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist were in the "likely" column. Susan Ferrechio of the Washington Examiner was at 50-50. The only naysayer was Bloomberg's John Heilemann, who opined it was unlikely Trump would be the nominee.